Is Stupidity a Sin? (St. Thomas)


Article II.–Is stupidity a sin?

R.  Stupidity implies a dulness of perception in judging, particularly about the Highest Cause, the Last End and Sovereign Good.  This may come of natural incapacity, and that is not a sin.  Or it may come of man burying his mind so deep in earthly things as to render his perceptions unfit to grasp the things of God, according to the text:  “The sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God;” and such stupidity is a sin.

2.  Though no one wishes to be stupid, still people do wish for what leads to stupidity, by withdrawing their thoughts from things spiritual and burying them in things of the earth.  So it is also with other sins; for the lustful man wants the pleasure to which the sin is attached, though he does not absolutely wish for the sin; for he would like to enjoy the pleasure without the sin.

Trials, Thomas and Tree

I am currently trying to get some writing done–or, more strictly and honestly, I have been trying to get myself to try to get some writing done. It’s been a while since I have felt more distant from the beginning of productive writing. Part of it is the lingering fatigue of the term, I guess; but part of it is a recently settled conviction of emptiness, of having nothing to say, or of not having powers adequate to saying whatever it is I have to say (read this last as a comment on the worthlessness of my powers, not the worthiness of whatever it is I have to say). Oh, well; I’ll get over it. Perhaps the best bet is to just get over the fatigue, and then to see how I need to address the conviction, if I still do.

In the meantime, I have been reading books on St. Thomas and watching Hallmark Christmas movies, usually doing both at once. I hope to teach a course, Concepts and Judgments in Thomism, next fall, and I am trying to get some of the initial blocking-out of ideas done, so that my understanding can ripen over the spring and summer. Here’s a particularly nice line from St. Thomas: “The good of the intellect and its natural end is knowledge of the truth. False judgments in the acts of the intellect are as monsters in nature, which are not according to nature but accidental to the nature.” Monsters! –As for the Hallmark movies, they’ve been mostly light and entertaining and holidaydreamy. Enough, I reckon, to stir the water of the mind without muddying it.

Thanks to my wife and my daughter, our Christmas tree is up and deserving of contemplation. The stockings are hung, and my wife has located both her kerchief and my cap. I enjoy the holiday.

Now for a series of long winter’s naps. Talk to you again in ’13.

Prologue to the Summa

Because the Master of Catholic Truth ought not only to teach
the proficient, but also to instruct beginners (according to the
Apostle: “As Unto Little Ones in Christ, I Gave You Milk to
Drink, Not Meat”—1 Cor. iii. 1, 2), we purpose in this book to
treat of whatever belongs to the Christian Religion, in such a way
as may tend to the instruction of beginners. We have considered
that students in this Science have not seldom been hampered by
what they have found written by other authors, partly on account
of the multiplication of useless questions, articles, and arguments;
partly also because those things that are needful for them to know
are not taught according to the order of the subject-matter, but
according as the plan of the book might require, or the occasion
of the argument offer; partly, too, because frequent repetition
brought weariness and confusion to the minds of the readers.
Endeavoring to avoid these and other like faults, we shall try,
by God’s help, to set forth whatever is included in this Sacred Science
as briefly and clearly as the matter itself may allow.

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